Hanau 'E'epe - the second group of Easter Island settlers

Hanau 'E'epe was the name given to the second group of settlers to reach Easter Island. They exist only in legends, since supposedly all but one were killed by their rivals Hanau Momoko.

The Hanau 'E'epe had according to legends the custom to elongate their earlobes. When Europeans started arriving in the 18th century, this tradition was still practiced, which would suggest that the Hanau Momoko took this tradition as their own.

Since the meaning of the first wave of settlers, Hanau Momoko, implies that they were tall, this would subsequently mean that the The Hanau 'E'epe were shorter than the Hanau Momoko.

Meaning of Hanau 'E'epe

There are two possible translations of Hanau 'E'epe:

  1. 'E'epe as a non-conjugated word in Rapa Nui means bulky or broad, which gives the possible translation of Hanau 'E'epe to mean bulky people, referring to them not being as tall as the Hanau Momoko.
  2. In Polynesian languages such as Rapa Nui exist repetition of parts of words when referring to multiple people. An example of this is moko (lizard) changing to momoko in Hanau Momoko meaning lizard people. In Rapa Nui, the word 'epe means earlobe, and it would with Rapa Nui grammar be perfectly valid to in the same way repeat this word into 'e'epe when referring to multiple people. Hanau 'E'epe would then mean earlobe-people.

According to what legends say about the Hanau 'E'epe, both of these translations make perfect sense. Possibly the second group of settlers were even named with both senses in mind.

Where did Hanau 'E'epe come from?

According to legends the Hanau 'E'epe had different physical stature, language and traditions (elongating earlobes) than that of the Hanau Momoko which suggests that they were not Polynesians. A possible origin would be the continent of what today is Latin America, the natives of which are shorter than Polynesians and most definitely had a different culture.

The only non-Polynesian civilization in the vicinity advanced enough for a voyage into the Pacific would be the one of the Inca empire.

There is an Inca legend about a king of theirs voyaging into the Pacific. It would make sense for these Inca people to be the same as the Hanau 'E'epe on several accounts:

  1. Inca people of higher rank elongated their earlobes, just as the Hanau 'E'epe.
  2. The Incas were shorter than Polynesians and had a different language.
  3. The Inca empire co-existed with the Rapa Nui moai carving era.
  4. The Hanau 'E'epe wanted to enslave the Hanau Momoko and take over the land, which stikes as a quite kingly thing to do, especially for a king from a great empire.

In addition to this, the monument Ahu Tahira at Vinapu shows similarity to Inca stone masonry. Rapa Nui people were brilliant statue builders, but their stone walls were typically nothing more than functional. Rocks that were thought to fit together were picked and the natural shape of the stone was preserved. A few ahus do exist with stones that were worked for better fit (for example at Ahu Tepeu). Though, no rock wall at Rapa Nui came ever close to the perfect engineering of Ahu Tahira, which would suggest that the platform wasn't built by the same people. Logically, the Incas wouldn't send the master carvers of Maccu Pichu (the royal Inca city) on an overseas adventure, but those part of the same culture had surely seen enough to utilize some of the techniques from back home.